Thursday, July 30, 2009

My Awesome New Bag!!!

Anyone who is wanting a really nice, good quality, WAHM-made bag, purse, or child's backpack... go visit my friend Jessi! She is quite talented and her work is beautiful! Caroline has one of her toddler backpacks (she is actually pictured with it on the website), and I just got this gorgeous bag that she made - an early birthday gift from my husband. :) I am using it as a replacement for my diaper bag... it is so much smaller and more compact, and it doubles as a purse. I can carry it either over one shoulder or across my body (helpful when walking around places while carrying a baby or toddler!). And its colors go really well with most of my clothes, as an extra benefit!

I first saw Jessi using a bag she had made that is basically identical to this one. We were at the aquarium in Chattanooga, and she must have noticed me admiring the bag as she kept pulling things out of it that I was surprised could all fit inside it! She referred to it as her "bottomless bag," and I asked her if she was making more to sell. She said that she had just made this one and hadn't had much positive feedback, so she didn't know if they were really marketable. I decided that I wanted one, and then once my birthday was coming up, I asked her if she'd make one for me. And here it is!

Jessi also refers to this style of bag as "Mommy's Tool Belt" - and that it is! She currently has a beautiful one up for sale... probably the third one made in this style!

So here's a tour of this incredible bag... I hope you will want one too and go support Jessi's business after reading this!

I will start with one of the coolest features: the elastic side pockets. They are spacious enough to hold a sippy cup each, and there is still room to slip some smaller items in there if need be. My kids can get their cups in and out easily. The pockets cover the area of the entire side of the bag.

The opposite side also has a pocket that covers the whole side of the bag. This side is a flat pocket that is perfect for holding a disposable diaper or three. That is typically all I need when going out, even for half the day (and I always try to have backup diapers in the van for re-stocking!), and they fit so perfectly in this space. There are three plastic snap closures on this pocket to keep it flat - I usually put this side against my body and the side containing the cups facing out.

Here's a shot looking down into the main part of the bag. Inside, you can see more pockets - yay!! Each one is smaller that the exterior pockets, but they are still vry spacious for what I keep in them. In one, I keep my wallet and sometimes lip gloss. In the other, I keep my cell phone, relevant coupons, a little thingie of diaper rash cream, and a little tape measurer.

In the main part of the bag, I have a snack container for my girls, a pack of tissues, my keys, a bib for my one year old, my calendar/planner, and a thin pack of wipes. I also throw other random things in there as needed: I think there are some fruit leathers in there as well as a bottle of Calmes Forte for Kids (aka "travel-tabs"). And truly, more could fit in here if necessary. I also like that this section is open with no snaps or zippers... easier access. And everything stays put deep inside.

This photo is just to show you how much stuff I have in this bag! Okay, so i don't have the large pillow at the right in there, but everything else fits nicely and in an efficient and easily accessible way. The thing I have the worst time with is diaper bags where everything falls to the bottom, or there are no pockets, or the pockets are not located in helpful places on the bag (or they are too small). This bag keeps me well-organized and able to have things I need in my hand almost immediately! Even my keys don't take too long to find when I just drop them into the center section.

Just look at all the things you can carry in such a relatively small and convenient way!! Did I mention how much I love this bag??? ;)

Go check out Jessi's website - she does custom orders, too!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Monday, July 27, 2009

Celebrating St. Anne (and Caroline's Nameday!)

St. Anne is remembered in the Catholic Church on July 26. She and her husband, St. Joachim, are remembered as the parents of Mary, the Mother of Jesus. we also consider this day to be Caroline's "nameday," meaning the feats day of her patron saint.

But wait, you may say, if you happen to know... Caroline's name is not Anne, nor is her middle name Anne!

Yeah, we didn't use an actual saint name on our first child... although JPII's first name was Karol, but otherwise I have not been able to find any saints named Caroline... and certainly no St. Rhiannons, which is her middle name. So, after some creative thinking, along with noticing that Caroline seemed to have a special thing for St. Anne... I noticed that the name is actually within her middle name, RhiANNon. So... there's the background, in case anyone wondered or cared. ;)

Several days before the 26th, Caroline and I worked on a craft project to be used as a centerpiece to celebrate St. Anne. I based this off Charlotte's idea... I found some images online of Sts. Anne and Joachim, some with Mary as a child, and also some of Mary, Joseph, and Jesus. If photo albums existed around the time these people lived, then these would be some of the people whose photos they would include in their family album.

I just cut the edges of some cardstock with a rugged-looking pair of craft scissors (I think the style is called "Deckle"), and then I printed off the pictures and let Caroline cut them out and glue them onto the pages. Then we tied them all together with yarn. The top photo shows one of the inside pages, and the second shows the "cover" of the album.

Traditionally in paintings, St. Anne is typically pictured wearing red and green... not Christmas-y red and green, which I suppose the decorations might look like if one chose an equal amount of red and green together. We made watermelon lemonade smoothies (another idea from Charlotte) because this red and green fruit is in season right now - perfect! Both girls really enjoyed cutting up the watermelon with me (and eating bites as they went!) to put into the food processor. Cecilia is getting very particular in doing some of the "big girl" things she sees here sister doing. She actually moves the chairs to the counter and climbs up herslef now - I have to be extra-super-mega-careful to keep all sharp knives and such pushed far back where she cannot reach!

As an aside, did you guys know that watermelon stains? As in, worse than blueberries, pomegranates, and avocado? I never got some watermelon stains out of Caroline's clothes from a previous year, but did that teach me to take off Cecilia's clothes first this time? We'll see if the immediate stain treatment has any better effect this time...

I keeping with the red and green theme, we had a green salad with tomatoes from our garden, and spaghetti with homemade tomato and basil sauce (also from our garden). And we happened to still have our sage green placemats out. I let Caroline eat off one for the special occasion, even (I was planning to toss them into the dirty placemat/napkin bag after dinner anyway...). Caroline wanted the St. Anne holy cards displayed right in front of her seat!

I plan to get a new holy card or two, or a small St. Anne statue, or a book, or a medal (lots of possibilities here!) each year for Caroline on her nameday. I will do the same for Cecilia, whose nameday will be in... hmm, I think November. I will have to look it up as we've not celebrated it before. I think the nameday celebrations are a fun idea - encouraging patronage to a saint and celebrating a special day with special food and traditions!

Here's Caroline, about to try her dessert, which was called St. Anne's Cream. It was like a custard/flan type dessert, and very yummy, I thought! Chris liked the flavor but had issues with the texture (I don't get the texture issues that many people have with foods!)... and Caroline's polite way of saying she didn't care for it? "I think this dessert is a little too interesting for a kid like me." LOL!!

St. Anne, pray for us!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Displaying Holy Cards

In trying to come up with ideas for a family altar, in which we display certain things that go along with the liturgical year, I invented these holy card holders. We will use them to hold cards of saints who have upcoming feast days... we can place them on the table to use as centerpieces or on the edge of the china cabinet, etc.

First, I got two wooden bases from the craft store and painted them gold.

Then I used some stiff wire (found in the jewelry-making section of the craft store) to make these little spirals. Wire cutters and needle-nose pliers came in handy here.

Chris drilled some small holes in them for me, and then we stuck the wires into the holes. We applied a bit of superglue to keep them straight and prevent them from rotating.

The holy cards can be stuck in the spiral part, much like a place card holder. And there you have it! This one holds two holy cards... good for displaying different cards of the same saint on a feast day.

This one holds four cards and can be rotated so only one or two are visible at a time. I think we will put cards in it at the beginning of the month in preparation for upcoming feast days. The cards that are in here now are totally random - just the ones I pulled out for the photos!

Anyone else want to share how you use holy cards around your home?

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Attachment Parenting doesn't have to mean Child-Centered Parenting

One of the typical arguments against attachment parenting is that it will make the baby "spoiled." Picking up a baby every time he cries and carrying him around will make him into a brat, and especially comforting him if he wakes crying at night, according to many mainstream parenting magazines. And some would say that the children they know who were attachment-parented are demanding, controlling little people at ages three, four, and beyond. I don't think that attachment parenting, in its true definition, is to blame for this. There are plenty of children who, as babies, were left to learn to comfort themselves, day and night, in order that they would become independent, who became demanding, controlling little people as toddlers and preschoolers as well.

I think this is partly due to what some call "child-centered parenting." This is when the child becomes the focus of everything the parents do, and when the child is given choice after choice after choice, from what to eat for breakfast to whether or not to go to a playground and when, to where the family should go out to dinner, to when the TV is on and what programs are to be viewed. This happens when the parents expect the baby to be the leading dance partner, for the baby to show the parents what to do and when.

But, you ask, isn't attachment parenting about being focused on the child, about giving the child choices, about listening to what the child wants and making them happy all the time?

Not quite.

Attachment parenting does advocate following the baby's cues... a baby's needs and wants are the same! It is impossible to spoil a baby by responding to his cries. I think the hard part for some attachment parents (and for many parents regardless of parenting style - more on this later) is the gradual shift from baby to toddler to preschooler. I also think our culture, with its playgroups and children's birthday parties and indoor inflatable play places, has a role here.

The first year can be an adjustment for a first-time parent, and attachment parents sometimes find themselves burned out from so much give and so little take. It is hard especially when we live in a society in which we don't have the constant support and companionship of living within a community of other families right outside our doors, and so it can become quite isolating. So we try to create communities for ourselves as parents, and these often revolve around the children.

Just to be clear, I am not knocking taking your kids to the playground or inflatable place at times... I do this myself. I am mostly kicking ideas around here. I do think that too much child-centered activity outside the home can breed a feeling of restlessness and discontent in young children (as well as overstimulation), where the child is easily bored at home and is constantly asking, "What are we going to do today? Where are we going that is 'fun'?" Kids who are overscheduled and taken to event after class after playgroup could very well lose the ability to be creative in their play. A little boredom is healthy for children - how else would they be motivated to come up with some of the elaborate play schemes at home that they invent?

Jean Liedloff, author of The Continuum Concept, writes about attachment paretning in a culture in which parents just parent by instinct, not by parenting books. Parents do what comes naturally as they focus on living their lives. She writes about it as not being child-centered. Babies are carried around by their parents and older siblings almost constantly, they sleep next to their mothers all night, they are never left alone even in sleep. They are breastfed on demand well beyond age 12 months.

But, you may be thinking, isn't this very child-centered?

Here's why it is not: the babies and young toddlers who are in-arms constantly are a part of the life of the family and village. They are along for the ride, so to say, as their mothers move about their daily tasks which are not child-centered. They observe their mothers (or whoever is carrying them) cooking, working in the fields, going about business all while the baby is "attached" to the mother (either in a sling or just held in-arms... obviously a sling makes this easier, especially if the baby falls asleep or needs to nurse). The baby is therefore a passive participant in the life of the family, as he watches and learns, "Ahh, this is what my people do." His needs are met: he can sleep when tired, feed when hungry, nurse for comfort if he needs it... all while the mother goes about her business.

This may seem strange and almost negligent in our culture... that the baby is basically "ignored" in that he is not constantly talked to, focused on exclusively, or that the parents don't ever "do what the baby wants," which typically means playing with the baby, reading him books, etc. But biologically, these parents are doing what the baby wants - not just what he wants, but what he needs, what he expects, them to do! He wants us to show him what we do, how we live, so he can learn about life from us, the experienced adults. He is not the one with the experience. This does not mean that he doesn't know what he needs... that his crying is just "manipulative." A baby cries to get his needs met, but these needs can be met in large part while parents go about their daily tasks (although it might take some practice at first, especially in a culture where we have not been brought up in this type of environment, surrounded by babies and this type of parenting)... in fact, this may be exactly what the baby needs! He doesn't want to be engaged in child-centered activities: being set down in a seat with a bunch of dangling toys, being put in front of a Baby Einstein video or in an Exersaucer or what have you. I certainly did my share of sitting down with my first baby with a bunch of toys and trying to play with them with her... and talking to her about every single feature, mostly in a questioning format: "Is that a ball? What colors do you see? Is it blue? Can you roll it? It's a soft ball, isn't it?" Child-centered. I think it is thought to be valuable in our culture because of the high emphasis we place on learning. But honestly, did my first baby learn what a ball was any sooner than my second child (who I did not do as much of this with) because of this? No. And if she did - well, would it really matter?

I think the problem with too much of this (I am not saying parents should never speak to their babies or ever play pat-a-cake with them) is that it essentially puts the baby in a position in which he was not designed to be. He is a six month old - he does not know "what he wants to play." The eager and well-meaning parent sits down with the baby, waiting for him to make his desires known, when what he really wants is for the parent to show him what to do! He wants the parent to be " in charge," not in a dominating, controlling way, but by leading by example and incorporating the baby into the life of the family... not by hovering around him expecting him to show us what he wants to do, and not by isolating him and keeping him from the day-to-day family living, either.

Since we are not generally immersed in an attachment parenting environment in our culture, many of us do it - or at least begin doing it - for the same reasons we begin to breastfeed: out of obligation to our children. We often do it because it is "best," as shown scientifically. Attachment parenting, when done sheerly out of obligation and not an actual desire, can surely lead to burnout, resentment, and other negative feelings. Embracing attachment parenting as a part of family life, as something that is just "what we do," helps us to realize it is not all about the baby and more about the family. And attachment parenting is good for the baby and the family: the baby learns about family life, older children get to see constant baby care and learn patience since a baby's needs often come first (although mom can certainly nurse baby in a sling while getting a snack for older children, reading them books, bandaging a cut, etc.), and the needs of the family are considered as a whole. For example, families often sleep with the baby and/or younger children in the parents' bed because this maximizes the amount of sleep for everyone. Babies' needs are met throughout the night this way with minimal disruption to the parents' sleep (even if they can't sleep a solid straight block of 8 hours). Teaching babies to sleep alone before they are ready often results in less sleep for all: the baby, obviously, since being trained to sleep alone and through the night typically involves leaving the baby to cry, and this in turn could disrupt the sleep of everyone else in the house. Sure, sometimes this is a relatively quick process lasting a week or so, but at what cost? And then sometimes the training must be done over again after illness, teething, travel, and any other number of disruptions. All that to say, attachment parenting feels best when done as part of the fabric of family life and not when parents are trying to hurry (or at least fantasizing about hurrying) the process. I know because I started out with my first child by attachment parenting out of obligation, and I had to grow into it as a way of life. Once it becomes an accepted and even embraced season of life, how freeing! So much less concern and worry about baby's routines, and therefore less child-centeredness.

Often attachment parenting is associated with "permissive parenting," in which the children "run the show" and the parents give up all authority and try to be equals with their children. This is not what attachment parenting has to be. Again, the transition from baby to toddler is tough because of the child's increasing wants (which may not be the same as his needs). And it is not just attachment parents who end up becoming permissive parents... there is much mainstream advice about giving very young children choices, about asking their opinions, and involving them in most of the family's decision-making. There are some times when a two or three year old can make a choice between two things, but the problems arise when it becomes non-stop:

"Are you ready to get up now? Let's get breakfast, okay? Do you want cereal? Do you want oatmeal? Which kind of juice would you like? And in which cup? Do you want to sit in your booster seat or on the big chair? At which place at the table?" And on and on and on! Yes, these are all minor decisions, but this leaves no room for the child to witness the parent making decisions - which will help him be able to make his own decisions in the future as he has had the chance to observe competent adult decision-making. It also opens the door, if you have a more verbal child, for the potential for more arguments, and can lead to the potential for the child feeling as if he knows more than the adults.

A trap I often fell into was asking the question, "Okay?" after everything. We hear it all the time around us, so it can be natural to fall into it. "Time for breakfast, okay?" "Let's clean up the den now, okay?" "Mommy needs to go to the bathroom, okay?" "Do what your father tells you, okay?" In a way, we may be awaiting confirmation that the child has heard what we have said... expecting that verbal agreement from a young child is assured confirmation that he heard you and is agreeing to what you have said. Actions speak louder than words, especially with young children. Just by the act of preparing breakfast and putting the toddler in his seat, you are accomplishing the task without the "okay" part, without the possibility of getting into a power struggle with the child who may inevitably answer, "No!" Even though we have the best intentions when asking "okay," the message it can send is one of asking our children's permission, indecisiveness on the part of the parents, and a sense that everything is negotiable down to the minute details of the essentials of the daily routine (like eating a meal). Young children need to see that their parents can make decisions in the best interest of the whole family in a loving yet firm way, empathizing if the child does not want to do what he is asked while still helping him to do what is expected (distraction, singing, moving the child into the booster seat yourself in a gentle way, for instance). Then they can feel comfortable and confident that their parents are indeed competent adult models for them.

Lately, permissive parenting occurs in many families regardless of parenting style during infancy. Babies who were raised in a very "parent-in-control" environment, maybe ironically, can turn into demanding toddlers, and parents then see that the child has a will of his own and then try to placate that will in order to help the child become less demanding. On the other hand, attachment-style parents may continue to see all their toddlers' wants as being his needs and therefore have a hard time setting boundaries. Or they try to reason verbally or try to get the child to make compromises and agreements because they wish to treat their children as equals. I think that gentleness and compassion are at the heart of attachment parenting, but this does not have to mean that everything is negotiable for young children. Providing them with loving boundaries can teach them empathy for others, and this does not have to be done with harsh punishments. We can state a boundary once and then help the child comply, empathizing if necessary, without getting into a verbal battle of the wills and without belittling the child as well. Finding the balance is the tricky part!

Something else, and this may seem disjointed being put here, is the importance of the family working together. This follows the baby in-arms phase, as they have observed the work of the older family members and are honing their motor skills and becoming more independently mobile. Young children learn best by imitating, and they want to try to do what their parents and older siblings do. If their parents push all the housework to evenings after the children are in bed, or if they mostly do housework while the kids are out of the house with one parent or off at grandma's, then the children miss the opportunity to see their parents doing purposeful work and the chance to imitate them. We send the message that adults do the work and children just play out of the way, or, when we are constantly playing with our children while neglecting household tasks, they see that "fun" for the children is the main priority, even over dinner preparation and living in a sanitary environment! Of course, family togetherness should be equally important in that the children aren't sent off on their own while mom cleans meticulously. Having time set aside for family activities that promote bonding and creating strong memories is important - going to the beach or pool, taking vacations, taking a family hike or camping trip, family game nights or movie nights with older children... all these things create ties and make happy memories, yet they are not child-led. Rather, they are family-centered.
And family work around the house can be this way as well... baking together, painting together, and other chores and projects, when done together, can make good memories. The important thing is for the parents to display a good attitude about it: that chores are not mundane, tedious tasks to be hurriedly gotten out of the way, but that we can enjoy spending time together to make our home comfortable and a pleasant haven for the whole family. I have had to work on my own attitude and motivation in this regard, but I have found that when I try to enjoy my housework, then I do enjoy it.

And, as if I have not already babbled on long enough... could it also be possible that the culture of death is a partial culprit here as well? We don't have as many babies as we used to in our culture in recent years. Children are viewed more as burdens (at the very least, financially). People don't have the experience of being raised around lots of siblings and numerous other children within the family. So, we are almost obsessed when there is a new baby born that we become very child-centered. In families where there are more than one or two children, there is not as much chance to be child-centered because the parents are busy being family-centered, and the siblings play together as well as work together. How odd that, as a culture, we have purposely avoided having more children while at the same time, we have become so very child-centered.

I do think it is important to give children a little one-on-one time, too, don't get me wrong. Teens need some time with just their parents to talk about growing-up issues. Babies sleeping with their parents get a nightful of one-on-one time! And individual opportunities can be grabbed here and there throughout the day... one child may be playing alone while another is reading with a parent. I know one mom who assigns a kitchen helper each day... one child gets to help out with the dinner prep each day and spends some quality time with mom that way.

I think I should wrap this up before it gets even longer... As always, these are just some observations and thoughts that have been swirling about in my head for the past year or so, and some of this has more recently been brought to my attention. I don't claim to have all the answers... I'm not the poster child for attachment parenting or for family-centered life; I am trying to do what is best for my family just like all the other parents I know. I think it is interesting to ponder it all...

And here are some links that got me motivated to write this post:

Who's in Control? by Jean Liedloff

Restoring Harmony by Abigail Warren

ADHD, A Challenge of our Time by Eugene Schwartz (very long, but good especially toward the end)

Family Work by Kathleen Slaugh Bahr and Cheri A. Loveless (a Mormon article containing lots of good info for any large family)

When Queens Ride By by Agnes Slight Turnbull, 1888 (a great short story that only slightly ties in regarding homemaking... but a great read, really!)

A Bit of Benign Neglect by Donna Simmons
This one from a Waldorf perspective... here's a snippet below that provided me with an "a-ha!":

"Instead of being under the microscope, the children are simply "part of." Instead of being why or what is done, they are just part of the consideration. Instead of feeling the the parent's need for the child to fulfill whatever criteria - and however well intentioned - the children just live and grow and are part of the family.
There's a huge difference here! To be the center of an adult's world is so unhealthy, both for the adult and for the child and certainly for their relationship! What a heavy load for a child to carry to know on some level that every choice and decision in the household centers around him! What a challenge to live in a situation where it can seem that the sole reason the two adults involved came together was to raise him! How damaging to a child's emergent sense of Self to be unable to find his Self in relation to a healthy centered adult because that adult is busy finding her Self in relation to him!"

Just some food for thought...

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Daybook for July 19, 2009

Outside my window... our slicing tomatoes are getting redder and redder! We picked the first few off the plants today.

I am thinking... about doing a post on how attachment parenting doesn't have to mean "child-centered" parenting. Did I write this before? I am feeling some deja vu...

I am thankful... for a love of baking plus access to whole-grain, all-natural recipes.

Learning at home... Caroline is changing the vestments on our dowel rod priest each day, learning about the liturgical colors and all the different vestments worn by the priest.

From the kitchen... I actually updated the weekly menu in the sidebar! Also, I will be doing some baking for a Farmers' Market event on Friday.

I am reading... Caritas in Veritate by Pope Benedict XVI. Also Family Foundations magazine (Catholic NFP magazine put out by Couple to Couple League).

To live the liturgy... we'll be making a St. James cake on Saturday (because I have ground almonds from TJs that I need to use!). Next Sunday the 26th is St. Anne's feast day (Caroline's nameday) and we will be celebrating it by displaying St. Anne holy cards, decorating the table in St. Anne's colors, and... anyone have any food ideas???

I am creating... a display poster for our La Leche League group to use at various events, and holy card display holders. I will post details after I get them done... I actually came up with the idea myself rather than "borrowing" it from one of the ingenious Catholic mom blogs like I usually do... which is why it is such a very simple idea! ;)

Around the house... more oragnizing of the brochure collection, I hope. I didn't realize how many shoeboxes-full I had! Anyone want travel info from the 1990s on FL, GA, TN, AL, NC, SC, CA, AZ, VA, Washington DC, or Italy? ..... Okay, I am keeping the Italy stuff!

I am hearing... Cecilia shifting in her sleep over the baby monitor.

One of my favorite things... relaxing with a book and a cup of tea.

A few plans for the rest of the week... Creative Discovery Museum daytrip with a couple friends on Thursday, then a farmers' market at a local college where our La Leche League group will set up a table to sell handmade items, baked goods, and advertise about our group! Then Caroline's nameday celebration on Sunday, and a farewell reception after Mass for our seminarian.

A picture thought I am sharing...

Caroline with one of her favorite people... she will be so sad to see him go at the end of the month! He's going to make a great priest in a few years!

Pay it Forward

Okay, I am bumping this post back up to the top to see if I can get any more takers... so far, I have one winner and need two more. I got my own special package from Jessica in the mail this week and it reminded me that I should re-post this and see if I can "pay it forward" to three people as well.

Here's what was waiting for me in my mailbox this week - aren't they great?? Caroline loves them and has been playing with them frequently!

Wooden Saints - St. Cecilia, St. Catherine of Sienna, and St. Nicholas

I am not sure what gift I will be making (and I can't guarantee it will be as cute as the above figures, although I have made one before myself), but I have a few ideas, especially for items that can be used by children! If you don't have little kids, you can still join in, although I have no idea yet what I will make for you... but I will come up with something, probably edible. :)

:: The Rules ::

I will send a handmade gift to the first three people who leave a comment to this post on my blog requesting to join this Pay it Forward Exchange. There is already one comment, so two more commenters will get something!

All the gifts will be made and mailed out sometime within the next year. How exciting to not know when your surprise package will arrive!

What you need to do in return is pay it forward by making the same promise on your blog.

This Exchange is only open to those with active websites or blogs.

Have fun!!

Look who's talking too

I posted before on all the cute ways Caroline used to say certain words and have been meaning to write down some of Cecilia's pronunciations as well, before I forget them all. I didn't write down Caroline's while she was saying them and had to try to remember what she said (and when). Cecilia, so far, has clearer pronunciations, so not quite as funny... she is also talking *more* than Caroline was at this age (and those of you who knew Caroline around 18 months of age may think that's impossible as she was quite the chatterbox from early on!). Cecilia didn't say anything until she was over 13 months old, though, oddly enough... not even "Mama." So I never would have guessed what a vocabulary she'd develop over the next four to five months. It's mind-blowing how they learn things so quickly when they are little!

So, this post is for archival purposes for me... it really may be very boring for other people, so feel free to skip it, ha ha!

Words Cecilia says (these are words she actually knows and will say unpromted while pointing to things, not words she can repeat when asked... she tries to repeat almost any word we say, when she is in the mood... she is a little spitfire and if she is not in the mood to do something - she won't!):
eye: "eye"
poke: "boke" (these two follow each other frequently as she pokes her own eye!)
eat: "eat"
lunch: "utch"
cat: "dat"
dog: "gog"
Gabby (my parents' cat): "Dabby"
Mason or Macy (other cat): "Mehsee"
Gramma: "muhmuh"
Grampa: "Bahbuh" (stress put quite emphatically on the first syllable)
Caroline: "Buhluhluhluhluhluh" (she's basically rolling her Ls repeatedly - not sure how to really spell it!)
Gran: "Dah"
Grandad: "Dadad"
Mommy's: "Mommy's"
Daddy's: "Daddy's" (she also just says Mommy or Daddy if she is greeting us, but she will point to things that belong to us and use the possessive form... how weird is that?!?)
Tim (my brother): "Dim" (used to be "Tttt" - the "d" sound is almost a "t" sound but not quite when she puts it at the front of a word)
Mike (my brother): "Mahk" (used to be "guck")
Mike Revak (our seminarian): "Guck Guck" (that one cracks me up!)
Father Jim (our preist who just retired): "Dim"
Father Paul: "Bahw"
Father Ketter: "Gehguh" (which she says when she points to the dowel rod priest)
Pope (her first real word along with Daddy and a few animal sounds): "Bope" or "Pope" - it is interesting how similar P and B sound t the beginning of the words she says
Nuht-nuh: "Night-night"
Sleep/sheep: "eep"
Ruff (what a dog says): "uff" or "ahff"
Meow: "mow" (rhyming with "wow")
Mouth: "mouf"
Button: muh-muh
Horsie: "ohsee"
Rocking: "ockee"
No: "Nooo!"
Mine: "mines!" (yes, she speaks ebonics)
Naked: "nooney" (because I say it this way - one of us Nadolski children said this as a toddler)
Bottom: "bobbum" (same as above!)
Poop: "boop"
Gas: "gas" (which she insists urgently if I say I am going to change her poopy diaper!)
Peepee: "beebee"(got the important things covered there, huh?)
Baby: "beebee" - but it sounds differently than the previous word. In peepee, it almost sounds like a P sound
Water: ahhdah"
Blueberry: "bwoo"
Strawberry: "behwee"
Popcicle (frozen yogurt pps): "guckle"
Motorcycle : also "guckle"
Egg: "egg"
Cheese: "deese"
Noodle: "noonuh"
Cup: "bup"
Car: "dah"
Truck: "guck"
Scooter: "goot-goot" (scoot-scoot)
Come: "come" (which she shouts at the open door as she waits for Daddy to go by in his car or on his scooter... Caroline taught her this by calling, "Come on, Daddy! Daddy is coming!")
Pants: "bants"
Computer: "booduh"
Priest: "beest"
Mary: "mahwee"
Bow/hair band/hair clip: "bow"
Lawnmower: "moe-moe" (golf carts are also moe-moes)
Pool: "buhw" (almost a P sound again)
Splash: "bass" (almost a P sound again)
Bee: "Beeeee! Beeeeee!" (all bugs are "beeee!" until I tell her "it's just a bug," and then she says, "buh")
Swing: "ing"
Candle: "dahdoo"
Draw: "daw!" (all crayons,pens, markers, etc. are "daws" as well)
Chalk: "awk"
Toes: "does" or "peegees" (piggies)
Thank you: "neh-nuh"
Please: "beese" (almost that P sound again)
Fishies: "eeshies" (Goldfish crackers)
Snack: "nack"
Fork: "gock"
Ice: "ahhs" (better than what it used to be, which was a cuss word!)
Jesus: "Deezis"
Playground: "bwahbwuh"
Bird: "boohd"
Bouncy: "bousee"
Mouse: "mouse"
Duck: "guck"
Quack: "cack"
Ding-dong: "dah-nah" (another baby Nadolski-ism)
Pray: "pway"
Church: "dootse"
Read: "eeed"
Potty: "pot-pot" - that B/P sound again! (a Daddyism)
Down: "dow"
Bugbite: "buhbite"
Dot: "dot"
Pizza: "patsa"
Cecilia: "Cici," of course! (she can be really particular about not wanting to say this one!)

Whew, I think I am going to stop there!

First phrase:
Change diaper: "dandge dieboo"
She also said "Beeguh!" (big girl) the other day when she was sitting in a big chair.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Celebrating the Year for Priests

To celebrate the Year for Priests (declared by Pope Benedict XVI, from July 19, 2009 - July 19, 2010), I thought it would be a good time to make our own little priest and vestments with which we can learn about the colors of the liturgical year. The priest wears different colored vestments for different occasions, and this looked like a fun way to display the color of the day in our home (our little priest will be kept on our family altar/prayer table, which is in the works, and which I cannot decide which of the two names to call it... opinions?). I found the idea here. I also used this one as a reference.

To make the priest's body, I bought two dowel rods from the craft store along with a wooden base. I had hubby drill a hole in the base for the thicker dowel, and then we had to figure out what to do about the arms. The arm dowel is much thinner, but drilling a hole completely through the thicker dowel didn't work - it kept splitting. So we opted instead to carve a little niche on each dowel, making a flat, smooth surface, and then using the glue gun to attach them. I don't know how long this will work, but it has held up for a few days so far!

Here is the chasuble in white. I just freehanded an oval-like shape (hence the lack of complete symmetry!) on a piece of paper and then cut it out and used it as a template. Then I used Fabri-tac to attach the gold ribbon. I kept the design simple because the glue is a pain to work with!

Well, I had planned to just make chasubles and stoles, and maybe a cincture, although tying it around a skinny dowel rod would be a little odd-looking (not that it is visible at all when the chasuble is on, but anyway)... then my brother, Seminarian Tim, told me I had to make our priest a cassock and an alb, too, and maniples in each color as well. I thought, "Hmm, why not?" Although the point of the colors is made with just the chasuble, if I was going to make stoles and a cincture, why not make all the vestments so it could also be a lesson in what the priest wears when celebrating Mass?

Okay, so the cassock's just not going to happen - sorry, Tim! The alb was challenge enough, in that I didn't even consider how I was going to get it on the little priest before I over-excitedly began sewing it. Halfway through, I realized I'd have to cut it down the back because it wouldn't fit over his head. Then I realized that little dowel rod people don't bend their arms at all, making it quite the struggle to get the sleeves of the alb over his arms! I still am not quite sure how I did it - maybe I ripped a few stitches in the process - but I got the alb on him, and it's not comin' off again! Therefore, no cassock! The cassock wouldn't have been visible at all under the alb anyway, not to mention I'm not crazy about the idea of putting 33 tiny buttons on it...

So, here he is, wearing his alb (pretend there's a cassock underneath), cincture, stole, and maniple. Caroline can easily switch out the stole, maniple, and chasubles according to color. She dressed him in white this morning for the Memorial of Our Lady of Mount Carmel.

So, what more could our priest need?

A face, of course! We predicted Caroline would be distressed at his facelessness. So I drew on a very simple face, since the intent is not the person but the vestments and colors. Here he stands, completed, next to our vocations prayer card and prayer for priests, which we will say throughout this Year for Priests.

I told Caroline she could name him. She decided, after pondering it for a few hours, to name him Father Ketter, after a priest at my parents' parish. No idea why she chose him - we've been to a Mass where he was the celebrant once, maybe twice, and Tim got him to give the girls a blessing after Mass once. That must have made an impression on her. That and I think she's got some sixth sense about Catholicism and knows a good priest when she sees one! So, our apologies to Father Ketter that you now have a dowel rod named after you, but I assure you it is meant kindly!

Special thanks to Tim for explanations of each of the vestments... I learned some new things with this project!

Another thing we found (actually, I won one!) for the Year for Priests is this lapbook. We've never done a lapbook before, but it looks like a fun project! it will be neat to have something to remember the year by down the road, too.

Anyone else have a fun idea for celebrating the Year for Priests in your home? I'd love to hear it! I'd also love to hear whetehr you think it is called "The Year of the Priests" or "The Year for Priests." I have been seeing it written both ways!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Caroline's point of reference: her own birth

Chris and I were talking and said something about Pope John Paul II. Caroline asked us if he was still alive. We told her no, he actually had died about a week and a half or two after she was born.

Her response: "Wow, he didn't get to live very long, did he?"

I love how they have very little concept of time at this age. I wonder if she really understands that I was once a child myself!

For the "regulars"

In case any of my family and friends are wondering where all these random people are coming from who are commenting on my empty envelope from the White House... both Thomas at American Papist and Fr. Z at What Does the Prayer Really Say? have posted the story on their blogs.

The amount of dissenters who have come to my blog via AmP or Fr. Z was a bit startling at first... I thought, "Why are so many people who think it's silly to protest abortion (in a non-violent way such as a letter campaign) reading AmP or Fr. Z in the first place???" Surely these people do not agree with the content on those two very pro-life blogs.

But I am thinking this is a good thing. If there are pro-abortion people out there who are actively reading AmP and Fr. Z, then they must care about the issue at some level. They must care what their opposition thinks. And, as Father Lopez once said, he's much more worried about those who are totally indifferent than those who have enough passion to care one way or the other. That is, it is easier to change somebody's mind who cares passionately about something than it is to get somebody who is indifferent to care enough to stand up for their beliefs (because they have no beliefs, or very weak or flip-floppy beliefs).

I'm fortunate that there are people out there who take the time to spread the pro-life word and to fight against the ever-present culture of death that has so subtley snuck into so many people's lives. Many young people today are searching for Truth, and they can find a lot of truth over at AmP and Fr. Z's blog. Perhaps the dissenters who read these blogs will have their hearts softened over time through the power of the Holy Spirit.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Daybook for July 12, 2009

Outside my window... it's dark. We had a nice thunderstorm roll through here at the girls' bedtime, but both still drifted off to sleep peacefully, Caroline with me and Cecilia with Chris.

I am thinking... about that weird "letter" I got from the White House!

I am thankful... for the chance to go to lunch with a friend tomorrow after our La Leche League meeting, and then on to the outlet mall, where I haven't been in quite awhile... gee, it's mid-July, so I bet they'll have summer clothes on clearance, right? ;)

Learning at home... Caroline has gotten so good at folding the cloth diapers and wipes. the other morning, she folded about a third of them on her own, unprompted, and then later said, "Look, Mommy! I'm helping our family run smoothly!" :)

From the kitchen... beef bourginionne (no, I have no idea how to actually spell that!) on Tuesday, maybe some cheesy casserole bread along with it... salmon on Friday. Kroger has wild-caught salmon at this time of the year, and for a nice price!

I am reading... several online articles about the Continuum Concept by Jean Liedloff, and other things that have the wheels spinning in my head for a post about the differences between attachment parenting and child-centeredness and why the two don't necessarily mesh.

To live the liturgy... Our Lady of Mount Carmel's feast day is this week, so maybe some reading up on the brown scapular is in order. The holy cards I ordered have arrived and will be saved for the last week in the month.

I am creating... a wooden "priest" made from dowel rods and vestments for him to wear. Caroline and Cecilia will be able to change the vestments according to the liturgical color each day. Got the idea here and here.

Around the house... the usual routine this week... laundry, vacuuming, cleaning sinks...

I am hearing... Chris listening to something on his computer.

One of my favorite things... getting ideas for living the liturgical year from websites and books!

A few plans for the rest of the week... La Leche League meeting tomorrow followed by lunch and outlet mall. That's enough plans to cover us for the whole week, don't you think? We are also having Caroline's hero, our seminarian, over for dinner on Tuesday. He won't be at our church much longer! :( And sometime before the end of the week, I need to get to the library to turn in the summer reading form so we can get our free ticket to the Creative Discovery Museum and Chick-fil-a kid's meal coupon.

A picture thought I am sharing...

Okay, so two picture thoughts... Caroline's chalk drawing on the driveway of kids on a playground, and Cecilia for one of the five seconds she stayed in the kiddie pool.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Not sure what to think...

Today I received mail from Washington... from the White House, in fact! At least, it said so in the upper lefthand corner of the envelope. I figured it was probably some sort of form letter response to my letter to the President regarding my opposition to the "Freedom of Choice Act."
Hand-addressed to me, too - wow! I wouldn't think that there was a person sitting in the White House hand-addressing and applying stamps to envelopes... they don't have some sort of bulk mail rate at the White House? Hmm, more wasted tax dollars, I guess!

So, here's the thing: the envelope was empty. There was nothing in it at all. Nothing. I even checked for white powder, and nope - empty. Where is my letter? Or is this some sort of prank? My husband says that the envelope looks exactly like the one he received (some font, I guess) as the one he received from President Clinton back when he was in high school, congratulating him on his Boy Scout Eagle Award.

Then I remembered... what a coincidence - I had sent an empty envelope to the White House myself a few months ago! An empty, red envelope. I had the courtesy to explain on the back of my envelope what its purpose was... there was nothing written on the back of the envelope I received today.

So, is this just some kind of mistake? Was there supposed to be a letter responding to my concerns about FOCA or my concerns about the genocide called abortion that remains legal in this country (and could become even more protected under the law as our current President seems to want it to be)? Or should I feel... mocked, perhaps? After all, I did send them an empty envelope myself, representing one life lost to abortion, one life that was unable to have its voice heard by our elected officials in Washington. Getting an empty envelope in response... is that their way of saying, "No response - we don't care. That life is still gone, and we remain silent on the matter."

So now I am really curious... did anyone else who participated in the Red Envelope Campaign receive a response? Or an empty envelope? Did anyone who mailed a letter directly to the President recieve anything in response via mail? What was supposed to be in my envelope??? Or was it intended as is??

See? It's really empty!

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Red, White, and Blue Desserts!

We forgot to get the yogurt pops out during our cookout... probably better that way, since we had two other desserts (one of them unexpected... Chris brought one home from work on Friday). The girls love these "popsicles" and eat them like crazy!

They are made from plain yogurt, strawberries, and blueberries. Sometimes I throw it all in the blender, but I wanted them to be festive instead of purple... A few years ago, I pureed strawberries and blueberries separately and then layered them with the white yogurt to make red, white, and blue stripes:

That was two years ago! How little Caroline was...

And you can't really tell, but blueberry rhubarb crumble starts out being red and blue but turns purple after baking... add a dollop of vanilla ice cream, and there you have it! Yum!

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Wordless Wednesday: A Fairy Tree House for Caroline

(please ignore all the clutter on the table behind the tree house!)

Independence Day 2009

We had a traditional July 4th cookout with burgers, hot dogs, and cole slaw. We had some good friends over who had just had their fifth baby on Monday! Caroline and I began preparing a few days ahead. We made a tablecloth for the kids' table - we used red and blue markers, Do-a-dots, and stars punched out of construction paper.

I taped two big white pieces of paper together to make a simple (and disposable!) tablecloth. Caroline and I decorated it here and there over two days.

And here Caroline shows off our "one-cut stars." If you fold the paper correctly, and then make the cut correctly (which was my repeated problem!), then you get a star shape with just one two-inch cut.

I did nearly all the cutting... eight layers of construction paper were too much for Caroline to cut through. She did most of the hole punching, and then we strung them on a long piece of yarn to make a star garland, which we would hang outside on the day of the cookout.

I completely forgot to take photos during the cookout, so here's the aftermath:

The wind won out against the stars... they got all bunched up despite the way I had spread them out after hanging the yarn between the house and the tree.

Hope everyone had a wonderful Independence Day!

Monday, July 06, 2009

Simplifying your Domestic Church

This looks like a great book for us Catholic moms... Simplifying your Domestic Church. Sounds very good from this review.

Yet another book to add to my Amazon wish list and my "to-read" pile... ;)

Sunday, July 05, 2009

"Sleep Props" and Parental Expectations

You know, I really should not click on those targeted ads in Gmail... that's how I found the crib that's "just like being in Mommy's tummy." I clicked on a few again today, and found a website that had some information on "sleep props."

First off, this website (and another I clicked on) is the site of an infant/toddler sleep consultant. Yes, there is such a career now, believe it or not. These sites are run by "sleep experts" who will come up with a "personalized sleep plan" for your baby. Hmm, personalized? I would suppose that each plan is just a variation on "cry it out." Why people need to pay a consultant for this information that they could find in a library book is beyond me!! I guess it says a lot about this age of parenting... so many of us are looking for answers on child-rearing, whereas 100 years ago, people just knew what to do (from experience of being raised with many siblings and within close communities where they had lots of experience being around babies/children), or if they had a question, they just asked their mothers or the neighbor who'd raised eight children of her own. This is coming from someone who does read a fair number of parenting books, by the way! It is unfortunate that we need these books and even less fortunate when we feel that we must hire consultants to tell us how to care for our children.

Anyway, back to the sleep props... some people call them "crutches" instead of props. The term would appear to mean anything that is used to help a child fall asleep, stay asleep, or get back to sleep upon middle-of-the-night awakening. Sleep props might include rocking, walking, singing, nursing, laying down next to the child, patting his back, replacing a pacifer, etc. And apparently, according to this website and many others, they are bad. Bad, bad, bad. It is never really stated why they are bad, but one would assume that it is due to their inconvenience to the parent. From all appearances, sleep props are not bad for the child (hopefully nobody out there actually believes that "if you don't stop nursing that kid to sleep, he's going to have to take you to college with him in order to get himself to sleep in the dorm!"). So, one would assume that if they are bad for someone, they are bad for the parent - unless they are just "bad" on principle?

My real reason for blogging about what I read today is this: on a page of the above-mentioned website, there is a section on "introducing a lovey or blankie" to your child (a "lovey" would seem to be a stuffed animal-type toy which a child can cuddle for comfort). If you want to read it, you'll find it under the "reading" tab (which, I might add, is FREE!). What aggravated me about this article on loveys (or is that "lovies"?) was that it went into how sleep props are something to be eliminated so that the child can fall asleep alone, but that a lovey or blankie is not a sleep prop. Uh, hmmm... if a sleep prop is something that assists the child in falling asleep and a child cannot fall asleep without a lovey/blankie, then yes, by definition it is a sleep prop. If this item gets lost or if the child pukes on it a half hour before bedtime, well.... then the child will have a very hard time going to sleep. So it is still a prop.

So why does this author purport that loveys are acceptable sleep props whereas none of the others are acceptable? Because the lovey is parent-free. The other "props" (nursing, rocking, laying near) all require an adult to do something. Which again goes back to the issue of - who is it that these props are bad for?

I think the answer boils down to some of the testimonials found on that and other websites. The most common comment seems to be that after following the personalized sleep plan, the parents "got our lives back." Got their lives back? Got back "to normal" perhaps? Because life is guaranteed to go back to the way it was previously once a couple's first child is born - where is that written? It is "written" (pictured, actually, and we all know that a picture is worth a thousand words) in the media, in our pop culture, in life all around us. Parents are disposable - anybody can raise a baby/child, we are told. Babies are inconvenient, life is more fun before they are born, so something had better be done afterwards to get them trained into being more independent from the get-go so that parents can "have their old lives back." The thought of a pioneer woman in a covered wagon trying to "get her life back" just popped into my head, and what a silly picture indeed... she has her life and is living it out already! Our lives are what is in the here and now, not some idealized image of what it "used to be" or what life looks like on TV (like in soap operas how you see the kids maybe once a month, and when mentioned, they are "off at Grandma's for the summer" or "with the Nanny" - and then they appear all grown up three years later, lol!). And life with babies and children is much different than life before kids, no matter how much our society tells us it shouldn't be.

Expectations - it boils down to what we expect as parents. Our society does us a great disservice in that it portrays babies who sleep all the time and only need attention when they need to eat (which is only every 3-4 hours, by the way!) or to have a diaper changed. This is a fallacy! If parents were taught to expect that infants do not sleep like adults do (or even like five year olds do), babies and small children need very frequent contact (Harvard did this study a few years back), and that they cannot be spoiled by being carried around constantly as you go about your daily work, then parents would be set up with much more realistic expectations before the first child's birth. Instead, we have to dig for this information (did you know that babies spend more time in the lighter sleep cycles as a survival mechanism, to help them stay alive, and not because they want to manipulate their parents?) and then feel the pushback from the rest of society as they get the "you'll spoil that baby," and "you need to get your life back."

Ah, but my children are far from spoiled, and I have my life - my beautiful phase of life which will slip away from me as the years pass. To everything there is a season, turn, turn turn, yadda yadda - right? Expecting that each season of life brings changes and that life will never be the way it was before, and then embracing these changes (knowing they will pass) seems to me to be the healthiest way to deal with it all. Sure, there can still be frustration, longing for the past (this coming from a highly sentimental person!), but overall, expecting things to change and not having a set definition of "normal" has brought me much peace. "Normal" a year ago was a baby who needed much nighttime attention. "Normal" now is a baby who still needs nighttime attention but less frequently and accepts it from Daddy in the first part of the night. "Normal" in two years will be children that don't wake up often at all during the night... and so on, until the season in which the children are no longer as dependent and will need me in a very different, less hands-on way.

Turn, turn, turn...

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Mary Garden Update

By the end of June, our Mary Garden looked quite nice with all the greenery in it. Our marigolds had grown up from seeds and were beginning to bloom by the last day of June. Our garden stone, a project I'd been meaning to get to during Mary's month of May, finally got finished this month as well. I bought a garden stone form and mix at the craft store, and we picked out various blue stones and gems there as well. Caroline made a border all around the stone while I worked on the rosary in the center. The idea to make a stone with a rosary on it came from an online mom friend who enjoys making garden stones with her own girls... she shared a great idea too, of trying to eventually have enough stones to make a huge rosary around the yard from them! What a fun idea!

One moment after I took the above photo, we had one less marigold bloom in our Mary Garden. At least she didn't try to eat it. Is it normal for a 17 month old to still eat sand??

Here's a shot of the whole garden, showing the marigolds, garden stone, signs, rosemary, and basil (not sure if basil has any connection to Mary or not, but it is quite possible as many herbs are associated with her - I just keep it here because it is convenient when I want to pick some to add to our dinner!).

The basil is doing amazingly well. I bought three basil plants (two are in our vegetable garden) and one more that is of a different variety - it has some purplish leaves along with the green and has a hint of a cinnamony taste and smell to it in addition to smelling like regular basil. We found somebody locally who sells a variety of plants and bought them from him (after our plants started from seeds failed) and are very pleased with our plants so far!

And here is our rosemary... it is multiplying like crazy, so I need to find more uses for it! One thing we have enjoyed is chopping some up and adding it with freshly ground black pepper to olive oil as a dip for bread.

Cecilia thinks the round stones that make up the rosary are balls. Technically, she is correct. But they won't come out no matter how hard she tries! Oh yeah, we have random lawn bunnies in the garden too... they have nothing to do with Mary as far as I know, but that is where they have ended up.

Future plans for the Mary Garden will be to add something new each year. Mary has so many nicknames and things that are associated with her that it won't be difficult to come up with ideas. For example, I saw some star-shaped garden decorations at Target a while back... Mary is known as "Morning Star." Stick the star decoration in the ground, and we'd have an easy-as-pie meaningful addition to our garden.

I would love to hear any other ideas people might have of symbols or plants to add to a Mary Garden!